Rehabilitate a character you find annoying

Obviously inspired by this thread.

Let’s say you’ve given editorial control of a fictional property which you mostly like but which features a character-- Wesley Crusher, Jar Jar Banks, Ross Geller whatever–who pisses you off for whatever reason. Your authority isn’t unlimited; you’re not allowed to summarily kill of the character whom you find so annoying, nor to exile the character from the plot, nor to reduce the character’s prominence in the work, but you are allowed to change the character’s presentation so he or she more palatable and less annoying. Who would you pick,and what would you change?

The answer for Wesley Crusher is easy in one sense (present him as a smart but inexperienced teenager beginning to earn his way onto the entry-level rungs) and difficult in that it runs into one of the parameterso of the exercise (the obvious character path is to get sent to the Academy – then again, they ultimately did that anyway).

Character: Scrappy Doo
Rehabilitation technique: Daily pills of doggy Valium

Debra Barone (Ray’s wife).

Let her try that shit on Tony Soprano for a while.

Radar O’Reilly: (later years of MASH)-return him to the sharp, nobody’s fool, on top of things company clerk, he was during the first season, before he became a wide-eyed innocent farm-animals-as-pets-and-not-as farm animals bumpkin.

I think with Wesley Crusher, it would be fairly easy. Stop showing the adults of the show fawning over his greatness and instead, have them treat him like the child that he is. Sure you’re smart, but you’re still not allowed on the Bridge. Touch that Framistan Converter one more time and you’ll be put off the ship, like any other non-authorized person.

For most others, the unrealism I find is the forced continuation of relationships. Which is the obvious contrivance, because the existence of the show depends on it. In real life, these things would never last. The nasty, abusive parents would be disowned and never seen; Jerry would lock his door and tell Kramer to fuck off; Raymond and his wife would divorce…

Ummm…are you sure we can’t kill off Jar-Jar? I mean, Sir Alec Guinness convinced Lucas to kill off Obi-Wan in the first movie for dramatic purposes, why couldn’t someone convince him to kill off Jar-Jar for the same reason? Other than that no one could keep a straight face while attempting to do it? (yeah…yeah…“dramatic purposes”…that’s the ticket!)

Except for the latter part, Jerry actually did start doing that. Kramer then moved to LA where he started taking bit parts (he even showed up as Murphy Brown’s secretary). j Of course, after a complicted series of events that were dealt with in multi-part season-ending/new-season episodes, Kramer moved back to New York where things quickly reverted back to normal.

The Seinfeld cast - get them away from each other and force them to interact with people who don’t share their neuroses (and borderline psychoses), without being able to fall back on each other for support. Spend a season with them each in a different state, unable to communicate with each other for some reason (say…George’s in jail, Kramer’s deep into one of his crazy schemes, and Jerry’s suddenly too successful as a stand-up to have time to call them), and, here’s the important part, force them to interact with people outside their comfort zones without having each other as a fall-back position. The other people don’t have to be NORMAL, just a different kind of crazy, one that doesn’t encourage them to think their own style of selfish neuroses are normal.

They’d still be annoying twats I’d not want to spend even 5 minutes with in person, but they’d at least become entertaining annoying twats as they’re forced to deal with being out of their element without backup.

Eric Gotts had damn near no reason to consider going back to the Heidi-Ho (even if she was played by Jewel Staite), and certainly shouldn’t have been playing these subtle pit-them-against-each-other games with Heidi & Jaye. (A better actor sure wouldn’t hurt either.)

I think if Tyron Leitso weren’t such a shitty actor, and Eric weren’t such a goddamned idiot, it’d be super-easy to ignore the rest of Wonderfalls’ faults.

Anita Blake- Therapy, detox, and a Sybian. Not necessarily in that order. At this point, she’s more mentally fucked up than the killers she used to actually chase down at the beginning when the books were good…

Gregory House - purge all elements that suggest he’s at heart just a big ol’ softy, and all moments in which he’d obviously like to be a nice guy but he… just… can’t… because… it’s… not… in… him…[eyes getting all misty, on the edge of crying]. If he’s going to be an antisocial bastard, I want it to be through-and-through.

Or this:

Radar & Klinger are driving from the camp to another MASH unit, when they’re ambushed & captured by three North Koreans. Klinger, wearing a dress, is brutally raped by the soldiers, who then prepare to kill him. Radar, forced to watch all this, manages to escape his bonds, saves Klinger, and kills all 3 of the North Koreans with a bayonet. The final one is a young kid who is on his knees begging for his life, and Radar cuts his throat anyway. They return to the camp, never telling anyone about why they’re a few hours late.

God, people still read those? There was even a Penny Arcade comic about how awful they’ve gotten. (The blog post that went with it summed it up perfectly.)

*Peggy Hill * - Forced to go back to school by Hank (school or divorce), Peggy is corrected by her 19 year old classmates so many times that she finally realizes that she doesn’t know much.

I’d take every wisecracking or whimsical sidekick, whether costumed or no, that ever accompanied a mystery man and largely delete the wisecracking and the whimsy. Especially with a rather grim character like Batman (who regretably started the whole mess with Robin), the light hearted sidekick always seemed incongruous rather than a counterpoint to the main character. Robin wasn’t even the most egregious example, Doiby Dickles maybe…
Anyhow, the sidekick needn’t be a carbon copy of the main character, but the lead shouldn’t be inexplicably encumbering himself with a retard either.

Ray Barone would have eschewed marriage altogether, having realized early that no one would ever love him and pamper him the way his mother does. He continues to live in the family home and only dates women who are not serious about commitment. He’s happy, his mommy’s happy, everybody’s happy.

Debra wouldn’t be on the show, but in bizarro world she’d have married a man who wanted to be a full partner in marriage and she would never have to nag him because he’s not a man-child. Also, she stands up straight.

Shees, and that’s a show I don’t even like.


I’m driven by a compulsion to see how things end. I refer to this as the “and then what happened” syndrome.

I really, really enjoyed the first couple. By the time they were showing clear signs of hitting the skids, I was already pretty much invested in the characters. Although not so much the* main * character - I’d be perfectly fine if the “how it ends” is for her to get run over by a moderately sized 18-wheeler. Or possibly cornholed with a Howitzer. Either way.

I’ve gotten where I’m skipping over more of the books than I’m reading, because I just don’t care about three or four chapters full of badly-written porn and am looking for the increasingly-hidden-by-porn plotlines to see if any of my danglers have been tied up.

Pity those of us with my problem - I so wish I could not be consumed with burning curiosity about what the hell happens next.

Sooo, does that mean there might be interest in a digest newsletter or website for the series?

I’m trying to think of a way to rehabilitate Dr. Smith from Lost in Space – trouble is that the essence of his character was that he was amoral, selfish, greedy, cowardly and self-aggrandizing; his annoying mannerisms were just lagniappe. But for all of that, he was the only character more interesting than a slice of untoasted Wonder Bread with cold butter; take away his annoying ways, and what’s he doing in the show?

In the very earliest episodes, when he was actally kind of sinister, he was a more tolerable character. He took point for increasing campiness for the whole series.